For me, Basel stands for quality of life

Ary Vaistij runs the “Zum Onkel” restaurant in Kleinbasel with passion and enthusiasm. He impresses his guests again and again with creations using only fresh, regional products. Coming from Basel but with Argentinian roots, he is fascinated by the diverse local cultures, which he believes are primarily reflected in the cuisine. For Vaistij, cooking means experimenting – and the kitchen is where he can give his creativity free rein.

“For me, cooking doesn't begin in the kitchen – it starts in my head. I find inspiration everywhere in Basel, but in one place in particular: the Rhine attracts crowds of people in summer. And I’m one of them. Whether in or near the Rhine, at the refreshment stalls, the gravel riverbank beaches, strolling, swimming, with or without a beer – it's full of life. And this joie de vivre is what I want to serve up on a plate.

I also completed my training as a chef directly on the Rhine, at Restaurant Krafft. When I swim by in summer, the memories come back to me. I experienced, learned and discovered so much here. But one thing is true about cooking: you've never finished learning!

Today I run my own restaurant «Zum Onkel» in the Matthäus district, at the heart of Kleinbasel. I live a few floors up with my family. I like the village atmosphere here. People greet each other on the street, wish each other good day, ask after the children, and I often see familiar faces in my restaurant. I always make time for a chat. My guests should feel at home in my restaurant. Because for me, eating is a social activity, closely connected to joie de vivre and quality of life.

This includes swimming in the Rhine. Like most people in Basel, in summer – whenever I’m not in the restaurant – I pack my clothes in the Wickelfisch bag and jump into the Rhine near Museum Tinguely. I get out again near one of the refreshment stalls and enjoy my beer.

Basel unites many different cultures and this is reflected in the city's cuisine. But for me the most important thing is for it to be fresh. At the Matthäus market just round the corner from my home I find locally grown fruit and vegetables that come straight from the farm. Every Saturday I put my young son in my bicycle trailer and ride to the weekly market with him. While he enjoys snacking on fresh strawberries or radishes, I look around for seasonal delicacies. I start thinking about new creations for my guests while browsing. Because cooking for me means experimenting, seeking, finding – and impressing!”